Perhaps it was taking out frustration. Perhaps it was a sense of urgency.
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Whatever it was, the Flyers' core showed guts and turned it on to prevent what would have been arguably the ugliest loss in a month of March that has had its share of eyesores. Playing the NHL's worst team that was winless in 17 straight games, the Flyers erased a 3-0 third-period deficit to beat Sabres, 4-3, in overtime Monday night at the KeyBank Center.
Talk about escaping disaster.
Ivan Provorov scored the overtime winner, while Kevin Hayes, Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier made it possible with third-period goals.
For the first time this month, the Flyers (17-13-4) have picked up consecutive wins. They had not won two straight games since Feb. 27-28, when they last visited Buffalo and pitched a pair of shutouts.
The Flyers are within one point of the Bruins, who hold the East Division's fourth and final playoff spot. Boston has three games in hand on the Flyers.
The Sabres (6-23-5) are the worst team in the NHL and in full-on sell mode. On Monday night, Buffalo held its first three-goal lead since Feb. 23, which is when it last won a game. The Sabres have gone 0-15-3 since then.
• Head coach Alain Vigneault shortened his bench substantially in the third period.
Young forwards Joel Farabee, Nolan Patrick and Oskar Lindblom did not play in the final stanza.
The Flyers' leaders steered the comeback.
• This one wasn't pretty, a lot like this month.
The Flyers obviously know they shouldn't have been in a 3-0 hole against the Sabres at second intermission.
Despite the team's win, its play through the first two periods holds weight. It's seriously troubling that the Flyers have not been able to string any positives together. They've been frighteningly up and down and are still allowing an NHL-most 4.31 goals per game in March — more than Buffalo, which hasn't won a game in over a month.
But the team's comeback also holds weight. Find a game over this season and last season when the Flyers truly quit. You won't find many. Maybe the 9-0 loss to the Rangers in which the game unraveled by epic proportions? That's about it.
However, Flyers fans sure would like fewer we-didn't-quit efforts. And they should. The Flyers have trailed by multiple goals in 11 of 16 games in March. That's far too many holes and it won't breed a ton of outside believers.
• It would be tough to blame any fan who held reservation or pessimism going into this game or any game following a win by the team this month.
The Flyers have not been able to build any momentum in March when it looks like it might.
Prior to this victory, the Flyers were 0-4-0 and outscored 24-7 in games following a win this month.
They still have more convincing to do, especially to general manager Chuck Fletcher as the April 12 trade deadline gets closer and closer.
The Flyers obviously aren't selling, but don't expect them to be major buyers, either. Let's say improvements by the margins to give them a shot at the playoffs. The Flyers should be judicious in what they're willing to give up.
• Brian Elliott wasn't the problem. He made 29 saves on 32 shots and actually gave the Flyers a chance to come back. The deficit could have easily been larger than 3-0. Some of his saves earlier in the game should not be undervalued.
Elliott will most likely to get the net again Wednesday. Carter Hart is not an option, unless the club changes its plan.
Buffalo netminder Linus Ullmark converted 32 saves but couldn't hold off the Flyers' surge.
• The Flyers face the Sabres again on Wednesday (7:30 p.m. ET/NBCSP). Suffice it to say they'll be focused on a much, much better start.
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